The FUNd Stuff at PNA!
"Give me a museum and I'll fill it."
- Pablo Picasso
by Martina Henke | PNA 7th Grade Teacher
I’ve always been a fan of museums. When I travel for work or recreation, I try to visit at least one local museum wherever I go, and I am always thrilled and inspired. Seeing the actual Emancipation Proclamation, an original Gutenberg bible, Thomas Jefferson’s study, Captain Cook’s maps, Van Gogh’s original art, Julia Child’s kitchen…. I’m always awe-struck that I am standing in front of THE actual objects that I’ve read about. Each museum I visit teaches me and broadens my view of the world.
In a 1999 lecture, the late Emmanuel N. Arinze, President of the Commonwealth Association of Museums stated that museums “hold the cultural wealth of the nation in trust for all generations and by their function and unique position, have become the cultural conscience of the nations.” And Joan Wages, president and CEO of the National Women’s History Museum says that, "Museums ensure understanding and appreciation for various groups and cultures. They promote better understanding of our collective heritage and foster dialogue, curiosity, and self-reflection. Further, they serve to help future generations comprehend their history and recognize the achievements of those who came before them.”
Our most recent class project, our Museum of European History and Culture, was designed to give students a chance to demonstrate what they have learned and to practice critical ELA and social studies skills, but also to develop an understanding and appreciation for museums and their role in our society. Students visited the Anchorage Museum of History and Art to talk with staff and examine various exhibits. They discussed and reflected on their experiences at other museums. They practiced some initial display skills with their African region bulletin boards, and three weeks ago they embarked on creating their own museum exhibits about a European country of their choice.
The topics and styles of exhibits that students created are wide-ranging and unique. Students’ individual cultures and interests influenced the focus of their work, and in many cases, their student voice shines through in a way that we rarely see. The process of researching, planning, developing, and finalizing took over our class schedule for these weeks, crossing subject area boundaries as students immersed themselves in the work of being museum curators. They were excited, engaged, curious. They built and rebuilt; tested and re-tested; elaborated and refined.
For our opening reception for parents, students baked and cooked and dressed in their finest to welcome their first visitors. They feverishly worked right up until the moment the doors opened, and then proudly shared their work.
It’s been interesting to watch visitors of various ages come through and explore the museum… and to watch our students interact with them and observe them. Our student curators are already seeing changes they would make and refinements they would consider as they see their exhibits in action with an authentic audience. Some actually have made adjustments or additions based on what they’ve seen and heard. When middle school students engage in this kind of revision, we rejoice!
With only one more school day before our museum closes we have already begun to talk about next year. The seventh graders will have another chance to be museum curators and they are ready for the challenge. Thank you to all of you who visited and honored their work!
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Coming Right Up
Spring Art Show
Wednesday, May 9th, 2018
Last Day of School
Thursday, May 24th
For a full listing of events, please visit
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We are grateful to our corporate supporters and individual donors who help make PNA and independent education possible for students and their families in Anchorage, Eagle River, and the Matanuska Valley. We couldn't do it without you!
John Hardwick and Ral West
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Plastic Surgeons of Alaska
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